Frequently Asked Questions

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If you’re having trouble getting signed in, you can reset your password or have your username automatically emailed to you by clicking the links on the Login page, or using the direct links below:

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Make sure to check your spam folder if you don’t get the reset/reminder email!

If you didn’t sign up using an email address, there’s no way for us to email you – so you’ll need to contact us.


As a coach, how do I get students signed up?

Here are the steps that coaches should follow. Note: For students reading this, please be sure to use your formal name, capitalizing the first letters of your first, middle (optional), and last name, as it will appear on your membership certificate that way!
1) Students should sign up at Coaches, PLEASE REMIND YOUR STUDENTS that they should use their formal names, capitalizing the first letters of their first, middle (optional), and last names. Their names will appear on their certificates exactly as they are typed on the “Create Account” page.
2) Students will see the following screen (shown below). They should log in with their newly created credentials by clicking the “Login Now” button or by clicking “Account” in the upper right corner of their screen. This will take them to their Student Profile page. Students need to click “Link to School” and select their role (student), high school or middle school, state, and name of school. They will be prompted to verify that they wish to link to their school.

Example of what students will see:


3) Coaches, to complete the registration process, you should log in, click “Account” in the upper right corner, and then click “Enter Points” in the left menu bar (under “Quick Links”). This will take you to the School Profile page. Just below the address for your school, a link will appear for “Approval Request.” You should then “Link to Existing” if the student is already listed on your School Profile page, or “Create New” if they are not yet listed. Please review the list of names in the dropdown menu to ensure that the student is not already listed.

Do you allow hybrid debate teams or duo partners?

NSDA rules do not allow for hybrid debate teams or duo partners. A hybrid team or partnership consists of students from more than one school competing together on the same team. Students must represent their accredited / diploma-granting institution at our district-qualifying and national tournaments.

I am a coach with permissions – how do I enter student points?

This answer will provide the basics for points entry. If you have a unique situation, please email with the subject line “Points Entry” for additional help.

1) Log in at and click on Account (in the upper right corner) which will bring you to your coach profile page. After that, click on Enter Points on the left side of the screen (under Quick Links) which will take you to our points application. You will see your School Profile Page. If you see a red dot (alert sign) next to your school’s name, click on that, and it will show you any outstanding invoices or credits your school has. If you have a zero balance you may move on to the next step.

NOTE: Your account must be active (annual dues paid and account in good standing) prior to being allowed to enter students and points.

2) Return to your School Profile Page (if you were just looking at your financials, click the link at the top of the points application to Return to School Profile). Scroll down to your student listings. You should see Add Student with a plus sign next to it. If you do not see this, you may not have permissions, or your account may not be paid. Call us at 920.748.6206 or email If you do see a plus sign next to add students, you are ready for the next step.

3) Click on Add Students and add students to your school. Be sure that you are spelling the names correctly and that you have the correct graduation date. You may add multiple students at one time, just be sure to save each student after entering the information (you will see a message that indicates that the student has been created at the top of the screen). When you are finished, click on Return to School Profile Page. You should now see a list of students you have added under the Non-member Students section.

NOTE: Students become members when they have earned 25 merit points. When they have achieved those points, they become Member Students and an invoice for $20 for each student is posted to the school’s account. This membership fee is lifetime and extends into Pi Kappa Delta, the collegiate honorary.

4) Now that you have added students, you may enter tournament results. Return to the School Profile Page and click on Enter Points. You may add points by individual student or by tournament. After you select an option, you will be taken to a points entry screen. Select the student(s) to receive points. Fill in the rest of the information, including tournament name, dates, and location.

5) Select a coach. The coach will receive 10% of the student’s points. Only one coach may be selected at one time. However, different coaches can receive points for different tournaments or even different events at that tournament if double entry is allowed.

6) Click on the radio button for the type of event. For debate, you will enter the wins and losses. N = No Decision. A bye counts as a win. If there are paneled rounds (more than one judge at a time), issue the overall result of the round — DO NOT CLAIM WINS OR LOSSES FOR EACH JUDGE. If the team or individual earned a 2-1 decision by a panel, for example, it is recorded as a win.

7) For speech, you will enter the ranks for each round of competition. Enter a 1 for first place, a 2 for second place, etc. Do not tie ranks unless it is the last rank in the round. If there are paneled rounds (more than one judge at a time), issue the overall result of the round — DO NOT CLAIM RANKS FOR EACH JUDGE. If the duo or individual earned ranks of 1-2-3 and placed 2nd in the final round, for example, put a 2 in the box for the overall rank in the tournament. If the result is a semi-final round, make your best estimate for the overall rank in the round – for example, if the student earned a 4-4-5 in a semi-final and did not advance to finals, you would record a rank of 4 for that round. Do NOT claim multiple judge ranks for a single round.

NOTE: Please place the ranks in order of rounds. For example, if the student earned 4th place in the first round, 2nd place in the second round, and 5th place in the third round, the coach should enter 4-2-5 in that order.

8) For Congress, you should enter results for each speech the student was scored. Using a standard 6-point scale, you may claim the specific points earned by the student up to 5 speech scores per day. For example, if the student earned 6 points on one speech, 5 points each on two speeches, 3 points on a fourth speech, and 2 points on one speech, the coach would enter 21 points in the box. DO NOT SIMPLY MARK 24 POINTS FOR EACH STUDENT PER DAY – be sure that you are using the actual scores from the judges. DO NOT CLAIM MORE THAN 24 POINTS PER DAY IN CONGRESS.

IMPORTANT: At least four schools must be in attendance at any tournament to be eligible for points. Scrimmages and practice debates do NOT count for merit points entry.

For scoring situations outside these guidelines, please see the Unified Manual for either high school or middle school points recording. You may also receive assistance by calling 920.784.6206 or email

Where do I find a complete set of the interp rules?

The complete set of rules is located in our Unified Manual, which can be found here.

Be sure to read the complete sections on event rules as well as publication guidelines. Scroll to the bottom of the webpage for Frequently Asked Questions related to interp and to submit sites for review by our staff.

After reviewing the material if you have specific questions, just email us at with the subject line Interp Rules.

Why am I listed as an inactive coach even though my school has paid its dues?

A coach remains active by earning at least 10 points per year. However, an advisor or coach with permissions may add students, tournament results, view and pay invoices, etc. as long as the school is active and paid, even if the coach is listed under inactive. We encourage all schools to provide points to their coaches so that they remain active.

How do I add a coach to my roster?

Only advisors or coaches with permissions to add students can add coaches. If you are not the advisor, please forward this FAQ response to the program advisor to add a coach.

The advisor should log in at and click on Enter Points on the left menu bar. The advisor will see the School Profile Page. Scroll down to the coaches area and click on the plus sign next to add coach. Be sure to have the new coach’s email address when you enter them.

The new coach should create an account at and then log in, click on Account in the upper right corner, and request a link to the school. The coach chooses their role (teacher/coach), high school/middle school, state, and name of school.

The advisor must approve the new coach’s account by accepting this link. The advisor should log in, click on Enter Points, and on the School Profile Page, just below the address field, there will be a red-highlighted link to accept requests. The advisor should click on that, and then link the coach to the name (only create a new link if you have not already added the coach to the roster). The system is designed to look for similar names, but you may need to select the coach in the dropdown menu if the name does not appear.

How do I suggest a rule change or suggest a new event?

Consideration of rule changes or new main or supplemental / consolation events falls under the purview of the Competition Rules Committee. Send an email to with the subject line Competition Rules and the staff liaison to the committee will review the request.

As a student, may I enter my own points?

Only coaches with permissions may enter student tournament results and points. However, students can help coaches by reminding them to enter tournament results and by saving ballots and their records / scores.

How do I participate in World Schools Debate?

There are two different ways to participate in World Schools Debate:

1) Students can apply to be on the USA Debate team and represent the United States at competitions around the world. For more information, go to

2) At the district level (in this context, the geographic district of the NSDA), students can apply to represent their district team at the national tournament. Coaches should request information from their district chair or email Students should talk to their coaches.

The previous advisor left the school. How do I make myself the current advisor?

Mid-year advisor changes require a letter from the principal, on school letterhead, indicating that there is a change in advisor and who that advisor is. The letter can be scanned and emailed to us at or sent via U.S. mail to 401 Railroad Place, West Des Moines, IA 50265-4730.

May a school have co-advisors?

Yes, you may have more than one advisor. The school may designate advisors as speech, debate, or overall program advisor. Advisors may add students and points if the primary advisor allows additional advisors the proper permissions. We recommend that schools designate one primary advisor who is responsible for paying invoices, adding new coaches, and communicating with the Association.

I accidentally submitted points twice for the same student. Can I reverse this?

You can adjust a student’s points but you are not able to completely delete the entry once submitted. Please submit any duplicate entries to with your team name, state, student name, and date(s) of tournaments and note which entries are duplicated.

My students were middle school Association students and are now on my high school team. Do those points transfer with them?

Yes, those students can take 10% of their middle school points with them to high school. Just send an email to with the student’s name, middle school / state, and current high school / state and we’ll add those points to their record (will be located under “NJFL” in the points application once the transfer is complete).

Can I earn points for participation in Model United Nations?

Yes, you may earn points for MUN, Mock Trial, and several other types of events, including theatre performances. Review the unified manual for information on recording points for service, non-competitive events, or non-Association events.

Can you get points for participation in elementary school?

We do not currently have elementary school memberships available. Don’t let that stop you from getting your students valuable speaking experience! If you want to conduct some speaking or debating exercises at your elementary school, please let us know at and we’ll help you get started!

Do I have to be a member of the NSDA to apply for the USA Debate team?

Yes, you must be an individual member, and your school must be active members of the National Speech & Debate Association. For a complete application and for more information, visit

How do I order page protectors (slicks) for poetry and prose?

You can order books, protectors, and lots of other merchandise at our online store! Just go to and select the items you need!


Why am I listed as an inactive coach even though my school has paid its dues?

A coach remains active by earning at least 10 points per year. However, an advisor or coach with permissions may add students, tournament results, view and pay invoices, etc. as long as the school is active and paid, even if the coach is listed under inactive. We encourage all schools to provide points to their coaches so that they remain active.

Why should I join the National Speech & Debate Association?

There are many benefits for students and coaches! As a member school, you can view performance videos of our main events, access topic analyses for debate events, track student performance and achievement in our online points application, earn national recognition and certificates, learn best practices from coaches across the country through webinars and instructional videos, and more!

How does my school join the National Speech & Debate Association?

First, you’ll need to create an account.

Then, once you’ve logged in, you’ll be given options to find an existing school in our database to renew, or create a new school.

If you are not certain if your school has been a member in the past, you can call the office at 920.748.6206 to find out if your school should renew or apply as a new school.

When you renew or apply, you will designate a chapter advisor who will serve as a primary contact for the Association and receive regular communications from our office. By renewing online, advisors attest that the principal has provided approval for application.

How do I contact the Association if I have questions?

Email us at or call (920) 748-6206. We’re here to help! You can also visit our website,, for more information.

What is the cost to join?

The annual membership fee for a high school chapter is $149. A check may be included with the application form and mailed to the Association address listed on the form. A signed Purchase Order (P.O.) can also be mailed to the Association. In addition, credit card options are available. Consider purchasing the optional Resource Package! (See below.)

What happens after I submit my application?

Once your application and payment arrive in the mail, or submitted electronically, your application will be processed by our staff and the chapter advisor listed on the application will be emailed login information to access the website and their team’s profile and roster. Your online dashboard will provide one-click access to many of the Association’s resources!

What is the Team Resource Package?

The Team Resource Package is an optional member benefit that provides access to topic analysis papers, the interp script titles database, premium webinars (including recordings of past webinars), event-specific textbooks, and more! NOTE: The Team Resource Package, once purchased, is activated for the current academic year (August-July), not the calendar year or date of purchase.

What is the cost for the Resource Package?

The cost is $199 for complete team access (ALL coaches and students on the team will have access!). NOTE: The Team Resource Package, once purchased, is activated for the current academic year (August-July), not the calendar year or date of purchase.

How do I enroll student members?

Students are eligible for membership after they have earned 25 points (at least 10 of those points must come from competition). Points can be earned through interscholastic competition, speech and debate related service activities, and formal public speaking events! Chapter advisors may add students to the Points Application and track their students’ progress online. Students earn points, which are applied to certificates and degrees, so that the students can receive honors from the Association.

What is the cost for student memberships?

A high school student lifetime membership is $20. After a student becomes a member, he or she will receive a certificate and membership card (sent to the advisor at the school address listed on the School Profile Page).

How do I join a district?

All schools are assigned an Association district upon membership. All districts have elected leaders which make up a district committee, and one of the committee members serves as chair. Feel free to contact the district chair regarding information about your assigned district when you join the Association! The district chair and committee members are tremendous resources for you as a new member school!

Can my middle school join the Association?

We would love to have your middle school join us! Middle school membership fees are $75 per year and student fees are $10 per student for their time participating at the middle level.

My school is located outside of the United States. May we join the Association?

Yes you may! In fact, we have partner schools located in over a dozen countries, including China, Japan, Thailand, Canada, Qatar, and South Korea! Please email us for an international application at

How are debate topics chosen?

There are different processes for selecting Policy Debate compared to Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum Debate topics. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) handles selection of the annual Policy Debate topic. Each state organization, the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA), the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL), and the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA) all have voting privileges. The national office submits one vote on behalf of the NSDA following voting by the membership. Lincoln-Douglas Debate and Public Forum Debate have topic wording committees that accept topic ideas from the membership, discuss topic areas, and craft language for resolutions. Resolutions are then forwarded to the membership for vote by students and coaches during each voting period. If you have topic ideas, please use our topic submission forms to forward your suggestions to the appropriate committee. Visit our current topics page for more details!

May homeschooled students join the National Speech & Debate Association?

Students must join a member school in order to be eligible for membership as an individual. A school is an accredited, diploma-granting public or private entity recognized by the state. In most states, homeschooled students must compete in academic or extracurricular activities through their zoned school district. The NSDA looks to the individual states to determine what makes for a recognized school. If your state recognizes individual homeschools for participation in school-based activities, your homeschool may be eligible for membership. Contact your state’s activities association to find out more or email with the subject line “Homeschooling.”

District Tournament

If my partner and I qualify at districts in duo, policy, or public forum debate, must we take that event to nationals, or can we take our individual events?

Partnered events always take precedent – you may not leave your partner behind. If you and your partner qualify together, that event must be taken to nationals UNLESS you BOTH qualify in another event. Your preferences must be indicated on the Single Entry Letter of Intent prior to the start of the district qualifying tournament.

Let’s take an example:

You are double entered in Duo and HI.
Your partner is double entered in Duo and Oratory.

Here are three different scenarios:

1) You qualified in Duo and HI, but your partner did not qualify in Oratory. Then you MUST take the Duo to nationals, even if your partner says it is ok to go without them.

2) You did NOT qualify in Duo, but you qualified in HI, you may take the HI to nationals.

3) You qualified in Duo, AND you qualified in HI AND your partner qualified in Oratory – you then have a choice. This choice must be indicated on the Single Entry Letter of Intent in advance of the district qualifying tournament (if you prefer HI over Duo, you would indicate that on the form – that choice is binding IF you both qualify in your individual event).

If you are double entered in two partnership events (e.g., Public Forum and Duo) you MUST have the same partner in both events to avoid leaving one of your partners behind.

If your partner is not able to attend the national tournament for some reason, you may not substitute partners, and you may not take another event – the partnership event will be dropped entirely.

Be sure to review all rules related to partnership events by downloading the High School Unified Manual or email with follow up questions.

If my partner is no longer able to attend nationals in the event we qualified in, may I substitute someone else?

No, you must attend nationals with the partner you qualified with. Substitutions are not permitted.

District Committee

How do I run for district committee?

All active member coaches who have earned at least 10 coaching points within the past year are eligible to stand for election to their district committee.

May I serve on more than one district committee at one time?

Coaches who work with teams in more than one geographic district may stand for election to both districts. However, the coach may only serve on one district committee at one time. In the event of election to two districts, the coach will be required to choose one district to serve and decline the other spot.


Why get accredited?

In an educational climate where school administrations and districts look for documentation of professional development and recognition for activity in the profession, as a respected and established high school speech and debate organization, the National Speech & Debate Association strives to meet that need through our Professional Accreditation program.

Who is eligible for professional accreditation?

Any Association member coach or educator who meets the requirements is eligible to apply.

Is there a cost associated with accreditation?

There is a $20 processing fee for each Professional Accreditation Application to cover the costs associated with the program.

Does this duplicate other degrees I’ve already earned?

The accreditation program is designed to recognize several factors of qualification, including education, years of experience, and quantity of students served (thus the National Speech & Debate Association points requirement). Earning accreditation represents a culmination of those factors, rather than simply replicating a degree certificate (such as a Master’s) a coach has already achieved.

What do I need to submit as proof for my accreditation?

As part of the online application, we ask you to upload a copy of your transcript(s) to verify you have completed the required number of classes and/or continuing education units (CEUs). If you have attended one of our webinars or coach clinics, you should complete our professional development reflection form to receive credit. If you have provided coaching or instructional mentorship to one or more fellow coaches in your area, please complete and upload our mentorship verification log.

Do I need to fill out a separate application for each accreditation?

Yes. You will be asked to select the appropriate accreditation level, upload supporting materials, and remit the $20 processing fee with each application.

Do I need to earn the Professional Accreditation before I earn the Advanced Professional Accreditation?

Yes. You must earn the Professional Accreditation before you are eligible to receive the Advanced Professional Accreditation.

How often are certificates sent out?

Accreditations are processed within seven business days of receiving your complete application with payment. (Please note, there may be a slight delay in May and June due to the National Tournament.)

How will you publicize my accreditation?

The National Speech & Debate Association will notify your Principal or Superintendent of your accreditation(s) with a letter signed by the Executive Director. Additionally, a list of accredited coaches and educators will appear in annually in Rostrum magazine and on our website.


Are works by Dr. Seuss considered prose or poetry?

Dr. Seuss is noted for writing stories in meter. For purposes of Program Interpretation (which requires the use of at least two of the recognized genres of literature of prose, poetry, and drama), as well as for our supplemental events of prose and poetry, works by Dr. Seuss may be used as either prose or poetry.

Keep in mind that this may not apply to all tournaments – for example, many states have their own, specific rules with regard to genres of literature and what is included in each.

Can I pull material from across a trilogy?

Each work in a trilogy (each play, book, etc.) is a single source. In Duo, DI, and HI students may only perform one work from a trilogy. POI allows you to pull materials from multiple works.

Does off-stage focus apply to eyes, body, or both?

Here is the full question:

The rules say, “In Duo Interpretation, focus may be direct during the introduction [the performers may look at each other] but must be indirect [off-stage] during the performance itself.” Is looking at each other considered looking each other in the eyes, their body, or both? In other words, could a performer look at the hand of their partner during a performance?

That is an excellent question, and the answer may be interpreted differently depending upon regional norms (there may even be variation in your specific state – some states have limitations in movement and focus delineated in their rules). In some contexts, only eye contact would be a violation of that rule, whereas in other contexts, looking directly at your partner in any way may result in lower scores by the judges.

To be safe in most contexts, you may want to gaze past the hand itself (the hand will be in your peripheral vision so you can tell where you are) so that you maintain offstage focus.

May I touch the floor or lie on the floor during my performance?

The NSDA rules are silent with regard to touching the floor or lying on the floor. It is a choice that interpreters may make. Although students may not be disqualified for touching the floor, judges can take movement into consideration in the overall evaluation of a student’s performance.

Keep in mind that other organizations, including specific states, may have rules with regard to interacting with the floor, in addition to other limits on movement.

May I use a script I downloaded from Script-O-Rama?

Since Script-O-Rama is not a publisher (their scripts are linked to other websites), those scripts may not be eligible. Always look to the original website or source of the original PDF to determine if the site is on the approved websites list (if in html format) or if it meets the conditions for download (PDF / eBook).

May I walk around in Prose?

NSDA rules are silent with regard to movement in our interpretation events. It is a choice that interpreters may make. Although students may not be disqualified for walking in Prose or related events, judges can take movement into consideration in the overall evaluation of a student’s performance.

Keep in mind that other organizations, including specific states, may have rules with regard to movement that may differ from our rules.

What is the maximum word count for transitional material?

The National Speech & Debate Association does not have a specific word count for transitional material. However, this does not mean that any original material is acceptable. Changes to the script may only be used for the purpose of transition or to eliminate profane language. Transitions may be used to clarify the logical sequence of ideas. They are not to be used for the purpose of embellishing the humorous or dramatic effect of the literature.

Any word changes (to eliminate profane language) and/or additions (for transition) must be indicated clearly in ink on the script. Failure to clearly indicate the addition of words will be subject to disqualification.

If you have any questions about a script, please email with the subject line Interp Rules.

Where do I find a complete set of the interp rules?

The complete set of rules is located in our Unified Manual, which can be found here.

Be sure to read the complete sections on event rules as well as publication guidelines. Scroll to the bottom of the webpage for Frequently Asked Questions related to interp and to submit sites for review by our staff.

After reviewing the material if you have specific questions, just email us at with the subject line Interp Rules.

May I use song lyrics in my interp pieces?

The NSDA considers song lyrics to fall under the category of poetry. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1) The lyrics must be print-published or available on our approved websites list (currently, there are no song lyric sites that are eligible to be listed on our approved websites list). The most common sources for song lyrics are print-published sheet music or musical scores. CDs with the original booklets containing song lyrics are eligible to be used. Albums with song lyrics printed on the original covers also may be used.

2) Events which require the material come from a single source (DI, HI, and DUO for example) may not add song lyrics unless the lyrics are found in the original, single source.

3) Music lyrics may not be transcribed by the performer – performers and coaches should read the complete set of interp rules found in the Unified Manual.

What about Mushroom Cloud Press? Or SpeechGeek? Can we still use those sites?

Yes, SpeechGeek, Mushroom Cloud Press, Playscripts, and other similar websites sell scripts in PDF format. Under the new rules, you may use PDFs that are professionally produced from these types of companies. If you are not certain if a PDF is from a recognized publisher, please email us at with the subject line Interp Rules.

What about Button Poetry? Or The Moth? Why can’t I use these sites?

Button Poetry and The Moth are high-profile examples of the power of the spoken word. Current rules do not allow for transcribing content from videos or podcasts. However, both Button Poetry and The Moth publish some collections of their stories in print form. Check out their websites for more information.

May I use anything on one of the approved websites?

Content on the approved websites must be in html format. For example, you may not transcribe a video posted on one of the approved websites. In addition, content that violates other provisions of the rules, such as organizational Twitter feeds or other social media that are embedded on the main site, may not be approved. If you have specific questions, please email with the subject line Interp Rules for further clarification.

May I use YouTube or other video sites?

No, YouTube videos are not allowed to be transcribed. Movie scripts may not be transcribed and sites that allow for users to upload personal transcriptions of movies are also not allowed.

Under the new Interp rules, can I use a downloadable PDF?

Yes, you may use a PDF, provided that it is from a publication company (students may not create their own PDF).

Are Kindle or Nook acceptable under the new interpretation rules?

Yes, provided that the works are available from publication companies (students may not create their own ebooks). Students must provide an eReader for script checks.

May I use content from a periodical website, such as The New York Times or Time Magazine?

Yes, websites with editorial review are eligible for use. However, they must be submitted for review and approval and appear in our list of approved websites before being used in competition.

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